In 1902, Andrew Carnegie provided funds to create The Desert Laboratory at Tumamoc. The site was chosen after an extensive survey of locations across the desert southwest. This launched a bustling scientific community that thrived in the early 1900s and changed the course of science itself. These scientists asked the first fundamental questions about desert plants: defining how they grow and connect to the greater environment. This laid the foundation for how we understand the Sonoran Desert, set its official boundaries, and launched the practice of modern ecology.

In 1960 the University of Arizona took over ownership of the site and immediately continued to expand the legacy of cutting edge science. The fields of paleontology and desert ecology have been guided by work done at Tumamoc Hill and the Desert Laboratory staff for nearly 115 years. The questions continue to pile on questions as we dig deeper into the secrets of the desert.